One of the effects of the winter freeze that has gripped the Houston area and much of Texas over the last few days are bursting pipes and water mains. Hundreds of Houstonians and Texans have experienced pipes bursting inside of their homes, flooding rooms and causing significant damage to ceilings and more.
The bursting pipes have become a common occurrence from apartments to homes after the hard freeze damaged pipes and brought hard ice inside, causing pressure and creating a giant headache for homeowners.
After a pipe bursts in your home, the best thing to do is to immediately shut the water off or at best, drip your faucets. Response time from plumbers could be difficult considering how ice has collected on roads due to the storm and freezing rain. If you can locate where the water main is in location to your house, shut it off before things flood. If you believe a pipe is frozen, turn off your water supply. If you believe your faucet is not running or your toilet is not refilling, there’s a high chance your pipes are frozen.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze Or Break
- Shut off your water at the main water valve.
- Electricity should be cut off to the area of the home with water.
- Call a plumber. It’s a good idea to research 24-hour plumbing companies in advance, just in case.
- If flooring, walls or ceilings are severely damaged, you may need to contact a water damage professional.
- You need to prevent mold and mildew buildup so use mops, towels and a wet/dry vacuum to soak up the water.
- Frost or icicles on the exterior of a pipe — especially if it was not insulated.
- Obviously — anytime water shows up somewhere that it should not be: on the floor, around light fixtures, etc. Water has a tendency to “travel” inside your walls and attic, so just because the leak appears to be right above you, that may not be the actual location of a broken pipe.
- Stains on your walls or ceiling. Look very carefully, perhaps with a bright flash light, for any discoloration from the normal paint. The beginning of a leak won’t always show up as falling sheet rock — try to catch it in the very early stages of discoloration as it gets wet.
- Sagging sheet rock — know that most of the time when dry wall gets wet, it has to be replaced, especially if is soaked and sagging or can easily be pierced with your finger or a tool. Fix the leak first, of course. Just repairing the leak without removing damaged dry wall or moisture could caused mold problems down the road.
- Low water pressure or no water pressure — this could impact all your water fixtures or just one or two in a certain wall that froze. Of course, this is more difficult to tell if your city’s entire water supply is compromised or suffering from low water pressure.
- Wet or muddy yard when it hasn’t rained — or water draining from your property into the street.
- Expensive water bills — if you haven’t changed your habits or had additional people staying over, a sudden jump in your monthly bill may be an indicator that you have a leak somewhere. It could even be from of a faucet or line outside or under your home where it may be less obvious. Again, walk around the perimeter of your property on a dry day and look for any clues like standing water or mud.
- Delaware Plumbing says that sometimes, but less often, discolored water or smelly water may also be an indicator that you have a broken pipe somewhere.
- Shut off the electricity in any area impacted by the water from the broken pipe — your entire home if you need as the situation is assessed
- Shut off water in the impacted area — sometimes you can shut off and isolate only the damaged area, but more often you will have to use the valve where the water enters your home from the city/county. In a worse case scenario, that vale may also be broken, and you will have to shut it off at the meter. You can call the city for help if you need.
- Take photos or video for insurance purposes
- Immediately begin removing as much of the standing water, moisture (leave a fan running in the area if you can safely use electricity) and damaged sheet rock as you can. During a natural disaster, if you wait for a professional to come and help, it could lead to further damage and mold due to wait times.
- Contact a plumber
- Contact your insurance company
- Hire a contractor to make other repairs (wall, ceiling) after the plumber does their work
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